Amazon fined by regulators for unsafe warehouse work conditions
Amanda Silberling @asilbwrites / 2:09 PM PST • January 18, 2023
Federal regulators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that three Amazon warehouse facilities had violated legislation designed to require employers to provide safe working environments. Investigations found that Amazon workers are at high risk for back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), especially in warehouse environments that prioritize speed over safety.
“While Amazon has developed impressive systems to make sure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers,” said Doug Parker, an assistant secretary at OSHA.
OSHA’s findings show an ongoing pattern of employee injuries, including stuck-by injuries while handling objects over 50 pounds. An example report from July reads, “crushing/smashing; face; furniture (61 lbs).” Another reads, “strain/sprain; lower leg; fitness equipment (148 lbs.)” The Florida warehouse was also cited for being too hot, which can potentially cause heat-related illness.
Federal regulators have found trouble in Amazon’s warehouses for years, where workers typically work physically demanding shifts of ten hours with minimal breaks. According to data from the Washington State Department of Labor, the rate of strains and sprains per 10,000 employees are four times higher at Amazon than they are at other warehouses. And in 2019, OSHA found the same issue with Amcare facilities that it’s reporting now: Amcare staff are treating employees on-site, rather than referring them to other doctors when necessary.